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BBC Television Drama: Press Release

BBC * 06/06/2002


Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon and Gina McKee head the cast of Stephen Poliakoff's The Lost Prince for BBC ONE

Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon and Gina McKee head the cast of award-winning writer/director Stephen Poliakoff's The Lost Prince, a two-part drama which is now in production for BBC ONE, it was announced today by Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning.

Following the triumphant success of his BBC TWO dramas Perfect Strangers and Shooting The Past, Poliakoff tells the little-known story of Edwardian royal, Prince John, the youngest child of George V and Queen Mary, whose short life spanned one of the most momentous periods in history the political build-up to the First World War and the machinations of European royalty in the early part of the 20th century.

Set against a backdrop of unprecedented upheaval in Britain, The Lost Prince tells the very human story of a unique family and an extraordinary boy. 

Diagnosed as an epileptic, and suffering from autistic-like learning difficulties, Prince John was unable to participate in public life and became increasing isolated from his family. 

Miranda Richardson plays Queen Mary, who tries to understand the needs of her youngest child; Gina McKee is Prince John's devoted nanny, Lalla; Tom Hollander plays George V, whose blood ties to his cousins, the Emperor of Germany and the Tsar of Russia, cannot prevent his country entering a calamitous world conflict.

Michael Gambon is Prince John's grandfather, Edward VII, with veteran Bergman film actress, Bibi Andersson, as his wife, Queen Alexandra.

John Sessions plays the young royal's exasperated tutor, Mr Hansell. Bill Nighy plays Stamfordham, King George's socially and politically adept Private Secretary. Frank Finlay and Ron Cook also star.

More than 600 boys were auditioned for the part of Prince John before Matthew Thomas, who had a small role in BBC Films' Billy Elliot, was chosen for the role. Daniel Williams will play the same part at an earlier age. Rollo Weeks and Brock Everitt-Elwick play his ever-loving brother, Prince George.

Producer John Chapman says: "Stephen Poliakoff has written for the first time about events inspired by a true story and like everything with him his research was meticulous and included time spent at the Royal Archives at Windsor.

"From this he has created an extraordinarily poetic screenplay in his unique style which offers a fascinating insight about this traumatic period in history, much of which is virtually unknown."

Poliakoff says: "Prince John had epilepsy and autism, and became a forgotten boy. We saw past events through the eyes of a child in Perfect Strangers and, in this drama, that happens on an epic scale. It is history seen through a half-open door on the eve of the First World War."

Jane Tranter says: "Following the success of Shooting the Past and Perfect Strangers, both of which were shown on BBC TWO, it's brilliant to have Stephen working on BBC ONE, and for his new piece of work to be tackling such a little known piece of history with all Stephen's usual perspicacity, originality and skill as a dramatist.

"This is a big and ambitious drama for early next year on BBC ONE, which continues the themes of the previous two in that it examines how much children are influenced by their parents."

Notes to Editors 

The Lost Prince is a TalkBack production for BBC ONE. The executive producers are by TalkBack's Peter Fincham (TalkBack) and David M. Thompson (BBC).

The Lost Prince marks producer John Chapman's third collaboration with Stephen Poliakoff. 

Previous credits are Royal Society of Television and Prix Italia winning Shooting The Past and Perfect Strangers, which won this year's RTS awards for Best Serial and Single Drama and Best Writer for Stephen Poliakoff. 

At the recent BAFTA 2002 ceremony, Stephen Poliakoff received the prestigious Dennis Potter Award and Michael Gambon received Best Actor for his role as Raymond in Perfect Strangers.

The Lost Prince began filming on 6 May and shoots until late July on locations spanning several counties including Suffolk, Norfolk, and Greater London.

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